Disclaimer: I don't own anybody of the SU-verse… Just my own bizarre characters, this warped little fic, and my weird interpretation of Manic

Disclaimer: I don't own anybody of the SU-verse… Just my own bizarre characters, this warped little fic, and my weird interpretation of Manic. So yeah… don't kill me.

Author's Note: Okay, I lied. This is the last chapter of this fic. I was debating about whether or not to add this epilogue, but for the sake of the next story in this (series?) it needed to be included. Yeah, I'm already working on it, so go me! Just as with the last chapter I'm kind of iffy about the end, but it's got stuff in here that will make things a bit clearer in the next fic. Plus the fact that there are a couple of small things that I found so amusing that I couldn't just leave them buried to be ignored. I'm sure you'll see what I mean when you get there. So before I send you on to read the actual finale of this fic, onto the (3) reviews!

Incomplete 13- Glad you think so, and I'm looking forward to your comments whenever I start putting the next one up.

Shelby the Hedgehog- That's a very good point… I'm not sure if Manic would want her to know though. Of course that's assuming that Sonic and Sonia wouldn't out him to her. To say the least he'd probably be pissed if they told her. As for her reaction… I honestly haven't really thought that through. You never know, that train of thought might spark a plot-bunny. Anyway, I'm kind of thinking that if Robotnik found out it'd be quickly followed by his death. Not that Manic would want to touch that I think.

Manic: -shuddering in a corner- Ewww… Blubber… fat… horrid mental images… X.X

Fira: …Yeah… He's being a touch melodramatic at the moment, you'll have to excuse him.

ManicFanFicHunter- -shrugs- Sorry? At least I decided to actually throw this tidbit in before my internet access gets restricted for the summer. I thought that the threat fit; I'm glad I was right. As for the length of the wait, don't worry. I don't intend to wait a year to get anything up. A couple of months, maybe in September?- no problem. A year? I'd have to take a fork to my eyes for being so lazy. So yes, you can count on something (hopefully) being up in September. October at the latest.

Fira: Now that that's out of the way; read on, enjoy, C&C is always appreciated, and as ever and always- review! n.n

Manic: …Or we'll find you. u.u; …Sorry, too much TV. -mutters- Damn Stride gum commercials…


The next morning brought with it a feeling of peace and uneasiness all-in-one. The first one up was Manic, so when the others awoke it was to the scent of breakfast being made. Sonic came out of his room to see his brother laboring over the stove, every inch of his body loudly proclaiming his tense mood. In some ways the scene was so normal that it seemed disconnected from reality. Twitching an ear in Sonic's direction Manic spoke without even looking toward the other hedgehog. "Breakfast'll be done in a few. I've just got a couple more things to do…"

Sonic seated himself at the 'kitchen' table and cocked his head. It was weird on a previously unknown level to know that Manic's voice, without the accent, was how he actually sounded. There were so many things that were different; Manic's body language was one good example. After a few moments of silence Sonic finally asked, "So… who was the one who sent the assassin after you? Aside from Robotnik I mean." Manic froze and his quills bristled in an uncharacteristic show of tension.

Yellow eyes slowly turned to regard the almost nonchalant blue hedgehog, then stared at him in disbelief. "Yeah, sure, act like you're only commenting on the weather," the thief-prince muttered. Sonic raised an eyebrow. "…You know that I can read every damn emotion and image going through your head, right?"

"Then what am I thinking right now?"

"I'm not a tele-… that's just bent. Don't tell me you fantasize about that on a regular basis." The slightly disgusted tone was enough to tell Sonic that his thought had indeed gotten through. The blue hedgehog could only snicker; knowing that Manic was an empath opened up whole new venues of picking on his brother. "You jerk," the thief grumbled before turning back to the stove.

"So, are you going to tell me who it was?"

Manic gave a derisive snort. "After practically announcing your interests in my head like that? Hell no. There are just some things a guy does not want to think about when it comes to his sibs you know."

"If you're going to lie again…"

Manic gripped the handle of the pan perhaps a bit harder than was necessary, leaving dents in the metal in the process. Realizing what he had done he let out a snarl, "Spraint." Before Sonic could even pursue his line of inquiry Manic growled out, "I'm not going to lie- I just don't want Sonia to overhear."

Both of Sonic's eyebrows shot up. "I never took you to be the chivalrous type bro."

"Chivalry nothing," Manic snapped as he whipped around to meet Sonic's inquisitive green gaze. "The only reason I don't want her hearing is because I don't think she'd believe me." Silently he sent over the image of Bartleby, hoping Sonic would understand what he meant by the image of the noble.

Green eyes went wide and Sonic's voice was little more than a whisper when he spoke. "Him?"

"Yeah, him. Now do you see why I don't want to tell her?"

"…She's gonna throw a fit."

"I'd say have a litter of kittens, but same dif."


By the time everyone else had gotten up and was served breakfast Sonic was brooding in a corner and Manic was doing his best to avoid the subject of who had hired Gehmeh in the first place. Sonia remained a little cold and distant from her empathic brother; he was quite content with the fact that she wasn't screaming and threatening him with bodily harm. The fact that he'd decided to stick to his true voice was a mixed blessing; on one hand it was a firm reminder of the fact that he had lied, but on the other it made it clear that he didn't want to outright deceive any of them again.

The occasional queries sent to his mind by Sabbat did nothing to ease his anxiety. The young feline was all too aware that something was off between the siblings, but he had no idea as to what the problem truly was. In Sabbat's mind Manic had lied, but he'd made up for it by coming clean, so therefore he should have been forgiven for it already. Manic almost envied Sabbat his clean-cut view of the world despite the hell he'd been through. It would have been much easier to face the scrutiny of the others if they would just forgive him for his mistake and let it go.

Finally the thief-prince dropped into a seat and let out an exasperated sigh. Before any could ask he grumbled, "Alright Sonia, you're pissed at me, it's as plain to see as daylight. Now before you consider throttling me, would you at least ask me whatever it is that's buzzing around your mind?" Qet let forth a brief snort of laughter, copping a golden-eyed glare from the hedgehog it had been directed at. The pea-hawk smirked and went back to his breakfast without a word.

Intense red eyes glowered at him for several long moments before the princess decided her brother wouldn't leave without an answer. "You lied."

"We know that already. I apologized."

"You killed her."

"I don't think I exactly had a choice sis. It was either kill her or let her kill Sabbat and… I'm not going to even go into what she wanted to do me; but it wasn't good."

"Don't you feel anything about doing that?!" Manic wasn't the only one to wince at her high pitch.

His temper flared and he tried to push it down as his grip on his chair tightened. "Sonia… You have no idea." A shadow flickered through those golden eyes, "I felt more than most. Every pain… the daggers hooking on the insides of her ribs… the blood pumping out of her veins… I felt every second like it was happening to me."

"Then why?" The rage in Sonia's voice was slowly fading, to drop to a tearful coldness. "Why would you cause someone that sort of pain?"

"If I hadn't killed her, then she would have gone after you and Sonic. That was something I couldn't let happen."

"Manic… how can you know that? How can you be sure? Don't you even doubt yourself in the slightest? Don't you even realize that what you did could be wrong?"

Manic's quills bristled however minutely. She didn't understand. She couldn't understand. It was time to make Sonia realize the truth about his mind. "Sonia, you know how when you throw a rock in a pond it creates ripples?" Her look was dubious, but he plowed onward. "Thing is, those ripples find things they bounce off of, which creates more ripples. Then those ripples meet the first set of ripples, which creates even more ripples. And on and on until there are thousands of ripples going every direction, every last one in constant moving contact with all of the others. For me, with my empathy, that's what it's like. I'm just one ripple in a giant pond, but I can feel all of the others almost constantly. One person is in debilitating pain, and I'll feel it like I'm right inside that person. Another person is laughing and is the happiest they've ever been, and I get the same feeling. Someone like Tahl, or Sabbat suffers… and I'm in there, in their heads riding out that hell with them. Like it's happening to me. Someone like the hedgehog I killed, or that lynx, I see what they think about, what they dream about, the sick joy they get from causing pain and suffering- and I feel it like it's my own."

He had the full attention of his siblings and the Guardian. The disbelief and shock, the slowly dawning realization of what every day had to be like in his head was plain to see on their faces. "I don't doubt that what I did about the assassin was right, because I knew what she was planning to do to me. I know what she was planning to do to Sonic. I know what she would have done to Sabbat if I hadn't shown up. I know, all due to the fact that she was thinking about all of it. I know because she might as well have been shouting everything in excruciating detail into my head."

Sonia was torn between being repulsed by what her brother had done, what she'd seen him do to the assassin, and the despair of being unable to protect him from the continuous mental assault he likely suffered every day. Her concern showed on her face while her repulsion kept her from pulling him into a hug. When Sonia finally spoke it was in a near whisper. "Is it like that every day? Always 'hearing' people?" Manic nodded. "How can you stay sane like that?"

Manic gave the barest hint of a chuckle. "I've been like this since day one sis. I had to learn how to cope with it and tune people out or I never would've survived. Kinda helped that Farrel knew what he was doing when he was raising me."

Ruby red eyes widened as the full reality of it all crashed over Sonia. "So he knew? And Qet knows? And Tahl knew? And…"

Qet chose that moment to speak up, the unuttered laughter evident in his tone. "Princess, with all due respect there's no way we couldn't know. Klepto's a bit too mentally powerful for his own good; so it was pretty obvious when his emotions were jumping around randomly to match what other people were feeling."

"So you were…" Sonia trailed off, unsure how to get across what she was thinking.

"Emotionally unstable as a kid? Hell yes. I grew out of it, but to quote Farrel I was 'hell in a hand-basket that got brought to him by an idiot rat'. Not that it was an insult or anything."

"-But he was right," Qet grinned, earning a not-so-serious glare from the green hedgehog.

Sonia shook her head, disoriented, but beginning to get a good grasp on Manic as he was. Her eyes met his, an ambiguous mixture of love, confusion, fear, frustration, and joy in those ruby depths. "I can't say I forgive you for killing people Manic. I can't. I may not understand it, I may not have a good grasp on what you experience, but with everything I know to be right… I can not accept any reason to kill as right Manic." The thief sighed and let his eyes become downcast, ready to admit defeat at having any chance of having a real family. "But," Sonia continued, startling him out of his spiraling thoughts, "I know you're also doing what you think is right, based on what you feel. Based on others' pain. Right?"

Manic nodded as hope kindled anew. If Sonia could accept him as he was… maybe their mother could too, when the time came for it. Sonia was, after all, as true an aristocrat as their mother. She was Manic's key to believing he had a chance at having a life when all was said and done.

"Then I won't stop you. I don't approve of it, but I know you're just trying to save people. Like Sabbat. Like Tahl. And…," Sonia hesitated, making both of her brothers nervous in the brief silence, "I know that you've… always… wanted to do what you think is best for both Sonic and I. I know you just want to keep us safe and… Thank you."

Manic let out a breath he hadn't known that he'd been holding, then blinked as he felt the familiar prickling sensation at the corners of his eyes. It wasn't the blown out of proportion form of acceptance that he'd been half-way expecting; but it was enough.

"Klepto, pull yourself together. You're an embarrassment; bawling over getting what you wanted like that. Goddess above! Can't satisfy you for a damn second, can we?" Qet mocked the moment he spotted the beginning tears.

"Shut up feather-head," the thief-prince retorted as his siblings hugged him. No, it wasn't perfect and it wasn't heaven-on-Mobius, but it was enough for Manic to know that he finally had what he'd been hoping for all along. It was enough to know that as bizarre and unusual to them as he was, his family would accept him entirely. He felt as he hadn't since the day Farrel had been roboticized. Manic felt like he had finally come home.



II Well we've come to the end,

II It's so sad,

II There's one thing you can do my friend,

II And it isn't so bad,

V Review, and the caushog will be glad.